Yes, before I became a coach, I worked in finance. Before that, I studied the Dutch language and literature and I had several jobs, none of which were even close to coaching – so why on Earth did I become a life coach, you might ask – and how?
These are valid questions.
It all started back in 2015, when I worked as a credit controller, collecting cash for unpaid invoices for a big corporation in Amsterdam. From my previous work experience, I was pretty much used to the feeling of “something missing” and I never expected my job to also be my hobby – but this time the feeling of emptiness felt more urgent. It could have been my age, it could have been a series of specific events, but I suddenly felt like I needed a change, but this time, not just ANY change – because I grew tired of making changes in my life for the sake of making changes.
The issue was I had no idea what I wanted to do, plus I did not have any special skills or qualifications, or so I thought.
When I looked around, all I could see were other people having similar corporate jobs, trying to find their enjoyment outside of work rather than enjoying every day at their jobs. Other people, who I was enviously observing from afar, were entrepreneurs and various specialists who seemed to be very passionate about what they were doing. They looked so confident! What was their secret? They were probably born like this, I thought, they are all naturally talented! They were born into a different environment than me, fully supported by their families to live their extraordinary lives; it must be so easy for them! How lucky they are!
I felt torn between those two different worlds: On the one hand, I did not want to settle for surviving 9-5 working days in a huge open space anymore. I did not want that one-day public holiday to be the highlight of my month. On the other hand, I felt like I could never belong to those “special, gifted people” who did what they loved. It felt like it was just too late to become one of them in this life.
In my desperate attempt to figure out what “less horrible” career options might be suitable for an average person like me, I hired a career coach and she helped me to change my perception completely. Slowly but surely, we explored all the old stories I was telling myself. Although it still seemed to be insanely unrealistic at the time, I have realized that coaching is something I have always been doing in various sub-conscious ways. I just never considered it a particular skill or anything worth mentioning.
My boyfriend once asked me: What would you do all day if you could only choose one activity? And I said: Listening to other people talking about their challenges and issues.
When I was signing up for my first coaching course; it had never seriously crossed my mind that I would be doing this as a job, not to mention my own business. I was more doing this for my peace of mind so that I could tell myself later: I tried, and I did not like it after all.
But I did like it, in fact, I loved it! I felt in my element. I realized that coaching IS something I could do and that I could even become great at it, if I allow myself. And so while I continued my coaching education, I started to coach my colleagues and friends, and later their friends.
Some people seem to assume that making my transition was an easy decision which I somehow knew from the start how it was going to work out, that I had a clear plan. The truth is that it was terrifying and although I had a vision, it’s real-life form got created bit by bit and day by day, using a lot of creativity. I did not know anyone else taking a similar path and I had to create my own, even though I never thought I could do that. It took a lot of patience, facing my fears every day and letting go of what was “known” to me.
And you know what? It was gratifying. I learned not only that my coaching works, but also that I can figure out other parts of my business pretty quickly because I care about bringing my “product” to the right people.
When I finally quit my corporate job to focus on my coaching business full-time in February 2018, I still did not know for sure if and how it was going to work out. What I did know is that I was willing to do anything in my power to make it work. And later, I felt the same fear and excitement when I was embarking my digital nomad journey in South-East Asia in October 2018.
People who ask me about starting my coaching business are often looking for some “secret formula” or approval. But the only formula (and not a secret one) is that you can only create your own recipe and build your own way because no one else’s style will fit you. No one else’s approval will help you either, only your own – and whether you give it yourself or not is a choice that you have to be making each day.
But the truth is that we are always making a choice, even in the moments when we choose to stay exactly where we are.
Creating my new career from scratch is the most rewarding adventure so far and doing something that I find meaningful makes all the difference in my life.
And I firmly believe there is a unique, meaningful path for everyone. We might not always see it, we might not even be able to imagine it, but it is there. And it’s only up to us if we want to have a look. Sometimes, the right coach can hold a flashlight for us, and shed light on the corners of our minds where we never dared to look before. But at the end of the day, no one else can see our path for us, but ourselves.
Can you see yours?
If you enjoyed reading this article, feel free to check out this one: If I can do it, anyone can